If you’re one of the millions of Americans using an online dating site, you may have come across a few profiles that looked a little…fishy. Perhaps the profile pic seemed unusual, or maybe the bio had an odd detail or two. Either way, you should be suspicious: 10% of new online dating profiles created are fake. Can you spot a fraudster? It could be the difference between either falling — or failing — in love.
How to Spot Fake Dating Profiles
Thanks to online dating, “romance scammers” are on the rise. As eHarmony reminds us, a whopping 53% of people lie on their online dating profiles. Of course, some of these lies are more serious than others. But with millions of people creating new profiles every day, it’s simply not possible for sites like OKCupid, Tinder, Match or Zoosk to verify everyone’s identity, much less establish their motives. It’s up to you, the dater, to sniff out the fakes and protect yourself from getting conned.
Fortunately, you can tell if you’re dealing with a scammer before they hit your heart and wallet. Look for these red flags:
- Account is newly created
- Aside from name and age, profile is mostly empty
- If the “About Me” section has information, it contains spelling or grammar errors
- Only one photo and it looks airbrushed or is partially nude (or both)
- The username or other content is overly sexualized
- Foreign location (many scammers operate internationally)
While these apply to a large portion of fake dating profiles, be aware that some scammers will analyze your online profiles to craft a false online persona that eerily matches yours. Is it meant to be? What seems like “fate” is really just a trick to lure you into giving them money or compromising personal information, usually explicit photos and videos (so-called “sextortionists”).
Communication Quirks of a Catfish
Perhaps the profile checks out and you’ve started communication with someone, but something makes you uneasy. Here are the hallmarks of communication with a romance scammer or “catfish”:
- Generic opening message
- Contradictory or inconsistent information
- Requests to borrow money
- Oddly evasive about their personal life
- Refusals to meet in person or appear on video chat
- Requests for nude photos or videos relatively early, tilting the conversation toward sex talk or innuendo whenever possible
If you encounter any of these red flags, end the conversation, block their profile, and don’t look back.
Use a People Search Engine
If you’re still not sure you’re dealing with a fake dating profile, do some quick research. This is where an online background check comes in handy. Simply enter their name, phone number or email address/username into a people search engine and see what you find; if there’s a match you’ll get age, location, criminal records, aliases, social media profiles and more. In fact, you’ll find far more information than you would with a simple Google search.
Trust Your Instincts
We all know that the Internet can be a scary place, and the world of online dating is no exception. For every hundred people looking for “the One,” there’s one looking to scam the other hundred. Online dating scams are a fact of life, but with a little help from your personal patented B.S. Meter™ and a people search engine, you should be fine. “The course of true love never did run smooth,” after all.